Facebook has announced a new security-sharing platform designed to help firms pass on information about incoming cyber attacks and threats. Twitter, Yahoo, Dropbox and Pinterest are already signed up to use the service.
ThreatExchange is an API-based platform that provides companies with the flexibility to specify the type and amount of information they share in order to strike a balance between openness and secrecy.
"Threats like malware and phishing typically go after multiple targets, and a successful attack at one place usually makes it easier to take over systems elsewhere. We share in each other’s fate," the website states.
"To be stronger together, we need a more open approach to security with the right tools. That’s how we can most effectively protect people’s accounts, safeguard data, and rid our services of spam and malware."
Mark Hammell, manager of the Threat Infrastructure team at Facebook, explained that Facebook took the lead in the project in the aftermath of a botnet that attacked several technology firms.
“A little over a year ago, a group of technology companies came together to discuss a botnet that was spreading a malware-based spam attack on all of our services,” he said.
“We quickly learned that sharing with one another was key to beating the botnet because parts of it were hosted on our respective services and none of us had the complete picture.
"During our discussions, it became clear that what we needed was a better model for threat sharing.”
Getting businesses to share information on security incidents has proved tough in the past as firms have been reluctant to reveal information that is considered sensitive.
Hammell said Facebook made sure that privacy controls on ThreatExchange were central to the platform to make it easy for partners to share only the data they felt comfortable releasing.
“Feedback from our early partners centred on the need for a consistent, reliable platform that could provide flexibility for organisations to be more open or selective about the information they share,” he said.
“As a result, we included a set of privacy controls so that participants can share only with the group or groups they wish.”
These early partners who provided feedback were Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and Yahoo. Bitly and Dropbox are also now signed up.
Other firms interested in becoming a partner can contact Facebook to get involved.
The project comes at the same time that the US government announced the creation of a new cyber security threat monitoring agency, the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, which has a similar goal of improving security preparedness.
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